Beginners Guide to Mosaic Knitting and Slipped Stitches

slip stitch mosaic knitting patterns by Kristin Omdahl

If you are new to knitting and want to explore working with more than one color, mosaic knitting is SO FUN and one of the easiest ways to get started with color work. While more advanced color work techniques require you to carry and knit with more than one color at a time, with mosaic knitting you only work with one color at a time on any given row or round. With the addition of slipped stitches (stitches not knit or purled at all), you create the illusion of changing color as you knit.

Mosaic knitting can be combined with other knitting techniques like cables, textures or lace, but it is usually created with just knit stitches, slipped stitches and sometimes purl stitches.

How to Slip A Stitch

Slipping a stitch means passing it from one needle onto the other needle without working it (usually from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle. When slipping a stitch, you won’t knit or purl it, just move it across onto the working needle.

Unless a pattern states otherwise, all slipped stitches are worked purl-wise. Insert the needle into the stitch as if you were going to purl, so it is not being twisted as it passes from one needle to the other.

Also, unless the pattern notes otherwise, the yarn will always be held to the wrong side of the knitting when slipping a stitch (wyib). So, when you are working a right side row (or round), the yarn is held to the back; if you are working a wrong side row, the yarn is held to the front (waif). This way the yarn is always going across the back side of the knit fabric.

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Mosaic Knitting Charts

If a mosaic chart is meant to be worked in the round, the round numbers will all be on the same side of the chart. If a mosaic chart is meant to be worked flat in rows, the row numbers will alternate on the right and left side of the chart and are meant to be read from the side the row number begins.

Most commonly, you will work 2 rows/rounds in the same color and with the same pattern, before moving on to the next color and working two rows/rounds again in that color.

Mosaic patterns can be worked in more than 2 colors, but each color will be worked in 2 rows/rounds at a time.

A mosaic chart is similar to other types of colorwork charts, with two or more colors, but with slips on all stitches of the color not currently being used. Usually you’ll be working two rows/rounds in one color, followed by two rows of the other color, throughout. In this chart, the numbers on the right are colored with the yarn being held on that row/round.

Sometimes, mosaic patterns will be charted and not written out, because they are so visual. There could be other symbols in a chart (like decreases for the crown) but usually knit and slip stitches will be the main two types of stitches when working in the round, unless working in rows, then it will be knit, purl and slip stitches.

Tips and Tricks

  • Mosaic knitting is more dense than regular knitting fabric and will require a new gauge measurement. Even if you are using a yarn and knitting needle size you are very familiar with, your stockinette or garter stitch gauge will not be the same as your mosaic knitting gauge.
  • Often you will slip a stitch for more than one row or round. Don’t worry. Just be mindful of not pulling the tension too tightly when carrying your yarn from the last knit stitch across the slipped stitch(es) to the next knit stitches. If your tension is too tight, you run the risk of puckering your fabric and affecting your gauge.
  • Have fun! Once you get the hang of mosaic knitting, the rhythm of knitting and slipping is quick and easy to memorize. Watching the color design take shape before your eyes is magical!

Mosaic Knitting Patterns to Make:

beginner guide to slip stitch mosaic knitting
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Kristin Omdahl is the best-selling author of dozens of knit and crochet books; designer of almost 1000 knit and crochet patterns; and producer of award-winning videos. You can join Kristin LIVE 5 days a week for The Kristin Omdahl Show on YouTube and browse through thousands of tutorial videos there, too. Kristin donates a portion of every sale to help survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about Kristin’s charity, Project Kristin Cares HERE.

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